By Dr. Willie T. Ong (Internist-Cardiologist)

Did you know that watermelons may help improve your sex drive? Recent studies are just discovering the wonderful health benefits of this fruit. According to Dr. Bhimu Tail, Director of Texas A&M’s Fruit and Vegetable Improvement Center, “The more we study watermelons, the more we realize just how amazing a fruit it is… the list of its very important health benefits grows longer with each study.”

For starters, every two cups of watermelon (280 g) contain 80 calories, zero fat, 27 g of carbohydrate, 10 mg sodium, 80 mcg of Vitamin A, lots of Vitamin Bs, 80 mg of Vitamin C, 18 mg of lycopene, and ample amounts of potassium, iron and calcium.

10 Health Benefits:

May help prevent cancer and slow down aging

The deep-red watermelon variety contains the pigment lycopene, which may help prevent prostate cancer. This antioxidant helps counter the bad effects of free radicals circulating in the body. Once we reduce these free radicals, we can theoretically slow down aging. Tomato is another good source of lycopene.

Good for the eyes

Watermelon’s vitamin A and vitamin C content are beneficial for our eyes. Yellow watermelon, is a good source of lutein, which is important for preventing age-related macular degeneration. So remember, red watermelon to prevent cancer and yellow watermelon for the eyes.

Good for the heart and blood vessels

The United States Department of Agriculture researchers report that eating watermelons increases our body’s arginine levels, an important amino acid (Journal of Nutrition, March 2007). Arginine is a component needed to produce nitric oxide, a substance that relaxes the blood vessels, improves blood flow and may save us from a heart attack and stroke. In addition, watermelon may help people with high blood pressure because of arginine’s vessel-dilating effect and its potassium and magnesium content.

May be good for sex

Citrulline is the special nutrient in watermelon that gives rise to arginine. One gram of watermelon flesh contains 1.5 mg of citrulline. When citrulline is converted to arginine, this can lead to the relaxation of the blood vessels, which is the same basic effect of drugs for erectile dysfunction like Viagra. Watermelon may not be as potent as these drugs, but it can still help the heart, brain and male sexual organ, too. And watermelon comes without the drug’s side effects.

Your source of alkaline water

The good news is that watermelon is made of 92% pure alkaline water. A lot has been said about the possible benefits of alkaline water. Compared to acidic juices of oranges and pineapple (which may irritate people with ulcer and gastritis), watermelon is safe for your stomach.

Good for the mouth and digestive tract

Watermelon has health benefits for the whole digestive tract, starting from the mouth, esophagus, stomach and intestines. Watermelon can relieve the pain of people with singaw or mouth sores. Some experts claim that watermelon can also minimize bad breath. And as it goes down to the intestines, it can treat constipation and normalize your bowel movement.

Good for the kidneys, bladder, and those with gout

Just like coconut water, watermelon is effective for cleansing the kidneys and bladder. If you have urinary tract infection or kidney stones, drinking lots of watermelon juice (and distilled water, too) can help treat your condition. Moreover, watermelon does not contain uric acid, and can help people with gout by reducing the amount of uric acid in the body.

Your natural energy drink

Watermelon gives a rich source of B vitamins, electrolytes and potassium. The B vitamins are needed for energy production and potassium is essential for heart and muscle contraction. Compared to an apple, watermelon has only half as much sugar, and yet, it tastes sweeter because of its high water content.

Prevents heat stroke and heat exhaustion

Watermelon has long provided a safe source of fluid for many desert regions in the world. Watermelon’s cooling effect comes from its component citrulline, which is converted to arginine in the body. Arginine can help remove ammonia from the body (bad stuff in the urine). In South Africa, watermelon rind is placed on the forehead and temples to cool a headache.

Treatment for heat rash and burns

Watermelon pulp can be used to treat heat rash and burns. Heat rashes are pimple-like eruptions at the back and chest area due to excessive sweating and heat. Try this as a home remedy: Place a watermelon rind in a refrigerator and let it cool. After a few hours, apply the inner part of the rind on the affected areas of the body. The cooling effect of the watermelon rind relieves the heat rash.

And finally, did you know that researchers have discovered that watermelon contains more glutathione per bite than 95 other fruits and vegetables? And for the ladies, glutathione means skin whitening and antioxidants.

Tips for storing watermelon:

Watermelon should not be left uncut if stored at room temperature. The lycopene levels are still maintained as long as it is not opened, but once it’s sliced, you need to refrigerate it. You can also cover the watermelon with a plastic to prevent the juice from evaporating.

In a previous article, I wrote that two bananas a day can keep the doctor away. That still holds true. However, during the hot and humid weather, nothing beats a cold, sweet and juicy slice of watermelon. It’s healthy and refreshing!

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